Should I drop to a smaller needle?

The top I’m making is mostly stocking stitch but there is a panel sewn across the top with a leaf pattern.
I’m using 4mm needles and happy with the gauge for the stocking stitch but my panel swatch is loose. I know it’s because I can’t keep tension so easily switching between knit and purl in a row with the yarn I’m using, it’s got almost no stretch and quite slippery.
I’ve measured the width and compared to the pattern gauge and it’s coming up big but also you can see on the photo that it is looser.
Both pieces are with 4mm needles.
What needle do you think I should go down to for the panel?

Thanks for your advice

Hi Creations. If it were me, I’d play around with it on some scrap yarn and either see if I could snug up my leaf stitches OR, alternatively, I’d at least work several (10?) non-panel stitches with 4mm needles, switch to a size smaller for the panel, and then back to 4mm for several more non-panel stitches. If still not happy, try dropping another needle size. That way you can see which needle size will give you the best result while also having the panel section blend nicely with the non-panel section.

Thank you so much for your thoughts.
The panel isn’t knit with the main body, so I don’t think it will effect the overall size.

My stitches on the panel are so big and sloppy compared to my flat stocking stitch.

How many sizes do you usually go down for a trial swatch? 0.5mm? 0.25? Or a full 1mm? More?
I’m so inexperienced I just don’t know what to try at all.

Wow Creations! Inexperienced isn’t a word I’d ever associate with you. You seem to post lots of good answers. As for needle size, I’m in the US so don’t think in terms of mm. . I think US 2, 3, 4, etc so not sure how yk answer that question. How much bigger do your panel stitches seem in comparison to the rest? If only slightly, then maybe start with 0.5mm. If a lot, go with a 1 mm. You can do just a really small test swatch of only part of the design and that should tell you pretty quick whether the needle size is even a maybe and if it isn’t, move onto the next smaller size.


Ha ha, I’ve given the wrong impression then :smile: I am very inexperienced.
I do try to help out where I can, I understand the numbers, but that’s not the same as being experienced in knitting. I have a lot of time on my hands these days so I am learning from people’s questions.

So, i have a gauge here which tells me the 4mm I’m using is a US 6 (I think). I think I’ll try a 3.25mm which looks like maybe US 3.
I’ll take your advice and do some rows and see what happens. I think I’ll continue on the same swatch and hopefully the pattern will continue but neater… much of the problem is my skill level, i know my purl is loose with this yarn and the increases decreases and cable twists are all big and sloppy. Maybe I’ll improve with more swatch testing before I do the real panels.

I’m grateful for your help

Hi just want to say thanks again for your help.
I tried the 3.25mm (US 3 i think) and the pattern looks lovely in that size.

Now I’m trying to work out how to change the pattern to make more rows and still look nice as the smaller needle will leave my panel short…

I’ll get there bit by bit.
Thanks for your help.

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Yea! Glad you’ve got it looking nice. :slightly_smiling_face: How many rows do you need to add to make it the correct length? Maybe you can adjust (add or subtract) a stitch or 2 from stems in each repeat? And just adjust the leaves to start a row or 2 off? Do you have some graph paper? That’d probably be the easiest way to figure it out. If not, you can download knitting graph paper here to print out.
Good luck, I’m sure you’ll figure it out!

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I’m not sure how short it will end up. I’ve made a guess based on the swatch and it looks quite a lot. Then another swatch and it looks slightly less. I’m still tinkering with it and trying out a few things. I might be able to add another repeat or just do some garter stitch rows on each end. Not sure yet.

Honestly working it out on a chart is way way beyond me but thank you for the suggestion and for the link for the paper.

I’m sure you’ll figure out something that looks nice. Good luck and have fun with it!

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I just stopped by with an update and to say thank you again for your help.
The needle size worked out great thanks to your input.
My top is not finished yet but there’s a photo of the panel and the main body, the size has worked out very well.

Thank you so much.